5 – Food Waste

This is Part 5 of the input into the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s Waste Advisory Group consultation process on the circular economy by Feasta member Féidhlim Harty.

These two graphics are a summarised version of the recommendations in Tristram Stuart’s book Waste submitted, along with a verbal contribution outlining the main issues, as part of the Waste Advisory Group process for the fifth meeting.

Note also that not all food waste has an equal carbon footprint and waste footprint. My own book Towards Zero Waste focuses a lot on food simply because of the amount of waste packaging associated with it; and with the hidden wastes associated with food production and processing. In our assessment of food waste nationally we will be most effective at creating a circular economy if we also consider the methods used in farming, processing and transport, and not simply the visible waste at home and from supermarkets etc in isolation.

In tandem with reducing the waste of food in our farms, factories and homes, it is important to look at the waste implications of food, food production and land use on a wider scale. To have a truly circular economy we need to close loops at every level and avoid leaking waste from the system; be that in the form of food, energy, plastic or any form of single use packaging. The mindmap below shows the measures associated with food, farming and landuse from Paul Hawkin’s book Drawdown and the drawdown project website. These account for approx one quarter of all GHG emission savings or carbon sequestration potential. Figures shown are the gigatons of greenhouse gas emission savings or carbon sequestration potentials (GT CO2-eq, 2020-2050).

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